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How to Care for a Shrimp Plant

Shrimp plant (Justicia brandegeana) is an unusual blooming shrub that is sure to become a conservation piece in your garden. Reaching heights of 3 feet at maturity, the shrimp plant will be covered with salmon or rosy pink blooms that look very similar to shrimp. Native to Mexico, the shrimp plant is drought-resistant but it won't tolerate freezing weather. If you live in a climate where the mercury falls below the freezing point, plant your shrimp plant in a patio container and bring it indoors when the nights turn cold.

Plant shrimp plant in full sun, in soil that has been cultivated to at least 6 inches deep. Although shrimp plant will grow in partial shade, the plant requires several hours of bright sunlight each day to bring out the brightest colors.

Keep the soil moist until the shrimp plant is established. Once you notice new growth, water only when the top of the soil is dry to the touch. Be careful not to over-water, as the shrimp plant is a dry-climate plant that won't do well with wet feet.

Prune shrimp plants after blooming to keep the plants from growing too long and leggy. Use sharp pruners or garden shears to cut the shoots down no more than half of their length. If desired, you can prune 1/3 of the shrimp plant every year so the pruning won't be apparent. Pinch the tips of shoots often to encourage the plant to grow outward in a bushy shape.

Fertilize the shrimp plant in May, June and October, using a water-soluble fertilizer for blooming plants. Apply the fertilizer according to the label recommendations.

Move the shrimp plant indoors in autumn if you live in a climate with freezing winters. Place the shrimp plant in bright sunlight, and keep it in a room where the temperature will be at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Water the shrimp plant when the top of the soil feels dry to the touch.

Re-pot container-grown shrimp plants in spring, if the plant appears to be outgrowing its pot. White roots growing through the drainage hole or slowed growth of the shrimp plant are both indications that the plant needs to be re-potted. Move the shrimp plant to a container only one size larger, filled with commercial potting soil. Be sure the container has at least one drainage hole.

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